Name: Eric Williams
Profession: Retail Business Owner of The Silver Room
One Word That Describes You: Enterprising
What does being one of the BEMM 100 Men of Distinction mean to you?
It’s an honor and very inspiring to be recognized among so many other successful black men. I’m glad this list exists!
What are some examples of how you turned struggle into success?
It’s been really important to adapt to my customers and adjust to the changes happening locally here in Chicago. When I moved my store from Wicker Park (North Side) to Hyde Park (South Side), the demographic of the store changed drastically. I tailored my merchandise to what the local customer here loves the most which is not just the jewelry we sell, but also the sunglasses and t-shirts.
What is an important quality you look for in your relationships with others?
Humility, honesty, and integrity.
What are some immediate projects you are working on?
In addition to all the programming we do in the store, I’m working with the University of Chicago to produce two major events; The Harper Court Summer Music Series and The Silver Room Sound System Block Party, which are free music and culture events. We’re also working to produce a private t-shirt label to sell in the store.
What is the best advice you ever received?
What is some advice you have for other men who want to make a difference?
If you see a need and you’re capable of fulfilling it, make the effort. Sometimes, all that requires is simply listening.
How do you prep for an important business meeting and/or event?
I can always do better in this area, but I always go in with a clear goal in mind and I make sure to bring something to write notes. My short-term memory is not my strong suit!
As a busy Modern Man, how do you unwind on vacation?
One of my favorite vacations this year was to New Orleans. It was nice to move at a slower pace for a few days. I rode a bike through the Garden District, ate some incredible charbroiled oysters, enjoyed the local art, and met a really interesting man named Charles Gillam, who operates a folk art museum in his home.
If you could travel and stay anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
South Africa—it’s a beautiful place with beautiful people and beautiful music.
Anything else you’d like to say?
It’s a very exciting time to be a black entrepreneur in America. We should all think about how we can collaborate and the support the elevation of other black business owners.
It’s our normal to be extraordinary. Follow @blackenterprise and join the BE Modern Man conversation using #BEModernMan.